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Fishing competition to roundup invasive species in local freshwater bodies

By Staff | Apr 24, 2019

The Southwest Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area will host its annual Invasive Fish Roundup on April 26-28 and there is no cost to participate.

Southwest Florida waterways are home to several non-native and invasive freshwater fish species. Many of them have a negative impact on the health and populations of the region’s native fish communities. The roundup is intended to raise awareness about the harmful effects of releasing non-native fish species into local waters and to collect data about invasive fish distribution to assist wildlife management professionals with efforts to control the species.

The free competition is designed for teams of one to four anglers in youth and adult categories.

Prizes will be awarded in both categories for heaviest invasive fish and highest total net weight of invasive fish caught. Additionally, a grand slam prize will be awarded in both categories for the greatest diversity of invasive species caught.

Prizes include chartered fishing trips, rods and reels, tackle boxes and lures, and more.

Lures and tackle will also be awarded to the first 50 youth participants.

The weigh-in is on April 28 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Bass Pro Shops at Gulf Coast Town Center, at 10040 Gulf Center Drive, Fort Myers.

Fishing during the competition is permitted in all legal freshwater fishing areas in Southwest Florida, including Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. Participants must follow all state and federal fishing regulations and are asked to track the GPS locations of the invasive fish caught.

Some popular freshwater fishing opportunities at Conservation 20/20 Preserves are:

– Pop Ash Creek Preserve, at 9451 Nalle Grade Road, North Fort Myers

– Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve, at 17100 McDowell Drive and 10130 Bayshore Road, North Fort Myers

– Pine Lake Preserve, at 12750 E. Terry St., Bonita Springs

The fish will be donated to feed the wildlife patients at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife on Sanibel, the animals at the Naples Zoo and Shy Wolf Sanctuary.

The event is sponsored by the Southwest Florida CISMA, with support from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lee County Conservation 20/20, Conservation Collier and Bass Pro Shops Gulf Coast Town Center.

Participants must register in advance online.

To register, visit www.floridainvasives.org/southwest/nonnativefishroundup2019.